“It’s just playing baseball”: GVSU Pitcher Josh D. Smith drafted by the Texas Rangers
Summer is finally here, which for many of college kids means going right to work. That is exactly the case for Grand Valley State pitcher Josh D. Smith. While many of us are mowing lawns or mopping floors, Smith is spending his summer in a less traditional summer job: playing baseball professionally.
Smith spent two years playing baseball for the University of Kentucky before transferring to GVSU prior to the 2018 season. Before he got hurt, he was an ace on the mound for the Lakers, posting a 2-1 record with 25 strikeouts and a 1.12 ERA in 24 innings, mostly in relief.
While Smith was obviously excited initially about getting drafted, he remains humble and feels the need to keep up the hard work that got him to where he is today.
“It feels great, but I feel like we also have to get to work,” Smith said. “It’s hard to get into a routine with how everything’s changed, but I guess you just got to be ready for anything.”
Smith is never going to forget that moment on Wednesday, June 6. He was at parents' house sitting next to his dad, watching the draft tracker and beaming with anticipation. In the 25th round, Smith saw his name on the tracker and his heart skipped a beat.
“We didn’t really know what was going on, with the injury this year, we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Smith said. “It was a feeling I’d never had before. We were both thrilled, and I have never seen my dad react so happily like that.”
Even though his time in Allendale was fairly limited, he still feels thankful for his time and credits the coaches for helping him improve as a ball player and a man.
“When I decided I wanted to transfer, it wasn’t an easy decision,” Smith said. “But this whole year at GV was big for me. I feel they put in a lot of effort to prepare me (for the MLB) in the month and a half I was healthy for.”
Smith now spends his days training with the Rangers and their minor league team in Arizona. Based on his description of what his normal day is like now, it sounds like he truly is living his dream.
“These days I wake up around 9:00 a.m. and chill until noon, and then I head to the field until 6 (p.m.) or 7 (p.m.).” Smith said. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Smith’s main focus this summer is healing up his left arm injury that was re-aggravated late in GLIAC conference play. He had Tommy John surgery on that same arm while at Kentucky, so the Rangers are taking every precaution to make sure that they get the best out of their new prospect.
“I’m almost healthy, but they want to take it slow with my arm and I trust what they are telling me to do to get back,” Smith said. “The MRI came back positive and everything felt fine, they just want to make sure it stays that way.”
No matter what happens, the GVSU baseball team is rooting for Smith to succeed and hopefully make it to the majors one day. Smith seems very focused, and while he is excited about all this, his main goal this summer is to simply keep calm and play the sport he loves.
“I’ve been preparing for this for most of my life, and now that it’s here, I’m ready to do whatever they want me to do to help the team,” Smith said. “It’s crazy, but it’s just playing baseball. I just have to do my thing, not let the situation get too big, and prepare for whatever place I get put in.”